2020 is the year for in-house content creation. In 2019, a third of marketing teams surveyed by Canto and Sapio Research were planning to reduce agency spend and start sourcing internally.
If you’re one of the nine in 10 comms directors surveyed by Speak Media who still struggle with putting content together, getting started is going to be the hardest part. Skip the stage of staring at a blank Word doc and get straight to writing/filming/surveying with this advice from PRs already content with their content creation.
Content can come from anywhere… but surveys and suggestions are a good place to start
‘We’ve had success doing research pieces from surveys but also received coverage just by making sure that we’re watching what’s going on across media outlets and seeing what comments and added value we can offer. Suggestions from the team are crucial though, you have to have that buy in from the wider business. That’s when you get someone from an area completely unrelated to content and marketing come to you with an idea.’
Cartridge People SEO manager Andy Davies
There’s no such thing as a bad idea
‘I know its cliché, but it’s true. In our ideation meetings, we encourage people to be as adventurous and as wild as possible with their thoughts. There have been times where someone has suggested something that they thought was a ridiculous idea, but it ended up being one of our top performing campaigns due to its originality and wackiness.’
Liberty Marketing digital PR executive Emma Hull
‘We have a very healthy attitude towards ideas and never shoot them down early on, which I think is key to making people feel confident about sharing. Even if they aren’t gold, some ‘bad’ ideas can lead to greatness after a discussion. The truth is that if we established an atmosphere where only great ideas are expected to be shared, then there wouldn’t be much getting said. Instead, we never write off ideas and it’s that approach that can get us the best ones – even if it is after some tinkering.’
Add People senior content and off page SEO specialist Jack Bird
Watercooler walks: talk to people outside of your own team
‘Communicating content ideas to the people in your business is arguably more important than when you’re looking to talk to journalists. Other teams can act as that first set of eyes and offer insights that don’t just look at how it can help build the brand. There are techniques to try and help that idea sharing, such as the 6-3-5 method, and this is one we’ve found useful.
‘Regular meetings and shared sheets can be a good way to formalise things, but we’ve found that just by talking to other departments, even in passing, makes sure that everyone is aware of the type of content that’s being produced.’
Make the most of the people and the skills you have around you
‘While you can utilise other sources, nobody knows your brand like you do and if you have in-house content writers, they will understand your business better, which pages are more critical and to add internal links to, how to add in your business goals or call-to-actions. There is a lower level of research required with inhouse content writers and the costs are far lower when writing in bulk.
‘The length of content required now is vastly higher than years gone by. We also need to not just look at the question we’re trying to answer when our audience arrives from Google, but their follow-up thought-track and predict their next questions, so they don’t return to Google for another search. This requires a lot of research around the subject area and associated questions, customer intent, as well as truly understanding our target audience and building out personas. This would be very difficult to do from outside and really requires staff members that are fully enveloped into our system and writing all day to help our content strategy.’
The Stag Company SEO expert and senior digital marketer Tom Bourlet
‘There are obvious advantages to creating your content in-house. Of course, these people already work for you and are already paid by you, so you don’t have to worry about allocating a budget for external work. Additionally, your staff already know the industry because they’re in it. They’re experts in the subject (hopefully!) and understand your client base.’
Carrington Communications junior PR account executive Leah Benthin
Created something great? Don’t just share it once
‘All too often great content is used once by one team and then gets left in the proverbial drawer, never to be seen again. This is such a waste. If good content is produced, I personally like to “wring it dry”. It should be used across multiple teams (where relevant) and also reused across different mediums too. For instance, there is nothing to stop a brand taking snippets from a longer whitepaper and turning these into social media posts, or likewise using some of that copy to draft an opinion article. They could even use that same copy to hijack the news agenda in a reactive comment, which can be distributed to the media. Doing this will not only mean you get far more eyes on that content, but will also guarantee a consistent voice, tone and message across multiple channels, too.’
Tribe PR MD and founder Holly Pither
Check what’s working
‘We use Google Analytics to look at the actual traffic and engagement of the blog, whereas Majestic is also used to look at the Trust Flow and Citation Flow, and Rank Checker to review rankings for longtail. As for content campaigns, we measure the success of these by making note of any links we have built.
While authoritative and trustworthy links are important to a website, coverage without a backlink is still a positive. It has become increasingly hard over the past twelve months to ensure that sites are linking back to a website as a lot of publications refrain from doing so as they think it is ‘harmful’ to their own site or they restrict this SEO benefit to affiliates.
Once our content campaign has been pushed, I check whether it is also being talked about on social media, too.’
Still not sure about getting started with creating content in-house? If you can write an email, you’ve got the skills already
‘If you’re working in PR, then chances are that you’ve already written some of the hardest content around – emails. There are thousands of articles dedicated to writing the perfect one – hell, even just a decent subject line. With words such a valuable currency and attention spans so fleeting, it takes a lot of practice and talent to write a good message. That’s why I’m willing to bet that if you’re confident about writing emails, then you should at least have the confidence to try your hand at longer content pieces. Trust me, they’re a lot more fun.’
Measure the success of your campaigns (whether sourced outside or in-house) with Vuelio media monitoring – find out more here.